What to do about those times wherein we find ourselves overwhelmed by life and yet need not only to talk to God but to hear? Trite responses need not be posted in the comment section – they will be disallowed. Our finitude becomes apparent in crisis. Feelings of failure and the lack of success rush in keeping us not only silent but believing God is also silent. What to do about this silence?
We live with such a cultural expectation we should be successful and that certain occupations carry an inherent greater value than others. One youngish fellow I recently shared some time with noted his sibling to be successful, which also meant well-adjusted, as compared to himself. I wondered out loud just what do we mean by successful. The conversation carried with it a layer that suggested those who are successful and well-adjusted must by nature experience a “closer walk” with God. Just what does that mean anyway? I read about Abraham and Jacob and find God often near them even when they are lying, double-crossing self-preservationists. I understand what sin does to us as we hope to relate to God. I understand what we say it does to God. But, when reading the story of God in the Hebrew Scriptures I find a number of illustrations, including those just mentioned, where the main character lived in ways we would summarily dismiss as contrary to the intended manner for the people of God and yet God seems to be ready to talk and listen.
Facing the brunt end of a tragedy often leaves one wondering just what success means and at the same time wondering and wandering intent to hear the Voice – the voice of God. Silence is often the ominous specter of loneliness. Yet, it is often the silence we need so we may hear the Voice. Robert Benson ( see the previous post) offers what may be in back of the perceived silence. He writes,
The Voice that my little friends claim to hear and to recognize in the middle of the night is the same one that we grownups who call ourselves Christians claim to seek and to have found. It is the Voice that said, “Let there be light,” and removed the darkness in a single sentence. It is the Voice that whispered the Word that was in the beginning. It is the one that the Psalmist claims whispered us into being and the one that gives counsel in the night.
It is not a voice to be trifled with. The Israelites heard it once and promptly demanded that from then on Moses take notes for them. We have pretty much been doing that one way or another ever since.
We love to read and tell the stories of the way that God spoke to Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Jonah, and the rest of them. However, we do not often remind ourselves that before they were heroes of the faith they were wanderers and wastrels, shepherds and stutterers, altar boys and mama’s boys, small time business folks and clumsy parents. Folks like us, pretty much. The difference is that they thought they heard the Voice and were foolish enough to say so and to act upon what they thought they heard.
We, however, claim that God speaks to us and then wait patiently in our pew for someone with a degree and a robe and a hospital parking pass to tell us what the Voice might be whispering to us deep inside. We pray for guidance and then worry about whether the voice we hear within us the Voice. (Benson,p.49-50)
Could it be the silence is our fear of the Voice and so we use our new fangled earphones to sample out the Voice and mistake it for silence as we live into the noise of trouble? Benson offers the thought that we just may be afraid of what the Voice will say calling us into something new and we would prefer an inoculating silence.
We need the Voice to whisper our name so that out of our trouble we find the newness wrought by the active Spirit of God.